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Regardless of whether you’re returning to the office or taking a few Zoom calls from your couch, keeping your dog or cat entertained all day while you work can be challenging.
If your pet got used to having your around 24/7 during the pandemic you might be worried about the separation anxiety both of you might feel as you head back to your job in person. While working from home may prevent this, juggling meetings and the demands of attention from your pet brings its own challenges.
One way to give you both peace of mind is making sure your pet doesn’t get bored. After all, a bored pet tends to be a destructive one. These 12 products—all available at Amazon—will keep your furry friends fed, entertained, and distracted enough to let you focus.
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1. The best automatic pet feeder we’ve ever tested
Most likely, once you’re back in the office, you won’t have the opportunity to run home and feed your pet on schedule, which is why an automatic pet feeder could be helpful. The WOpet SmartFeeder, our favorite automatic pet feeder, connects to the WiFi, allows for up to six remotely scheduled feedings per day, and tells your pet its feeding time with a pre-recorded message of your voice. So even if you’re away, you can ensure they get that 4 p.m. kibble snack.
Get the WOpet SmartFeeder for $139.99
1. An indoor or outdoor ball launcher
Can your pup play fetch for hours on end? If yes, an automatic ball launcher could be your best pet investment yet. This ball launcher can be used indoors or outdoors and has three distance settings to best fit your space—and not knock any photos off the wall. Just turn on the machine, put in the balls, and let your dog have a blast.
The machine only comes with three balls, but if you can train your pup to drop the tennis balls into it, the game can go on for hours. It may be a learning curve at first, but the payoff will be well worth it. Reviewers note it was easy enough for their dogs to figure out, but that the launcher doesn’t project them as far as the company claims.
However, if you have a big open yard and a trainable pooch, the GoDogGo Fetch Machine is a suitable upgrade. The machine is incredibly fun for play with and the various settings and features make it easy to tailor the game to your dog’s preferences.
2. A wobble wag interactive toy
Some pups are bundles of endless energy, so make sure you leave them with a toy that they can play with for a while—like the Wobble Wag. This interactive toy ball makes funny sounds, displays unique colors, and moves to mimic human interaction. It’ll not only be fun for your pup to attempt to figure out what part of the toy the noise is coming from, but once they find it, they’ll want to shake it again and again.
Get the Wobble Wag Giggle Ball Dog Toy for $14.99
3. A tether toy with ground suction
If your dog absolutely adores an intense game of tug-of-war, try entertaining them with a tethered toy. Equipped with strong suction, this one will provide an intense game that’ll keep your pet entertained long after you’re gone. According to reviewers, it kept their dogs of various ages (from puppies to older dogs) entertained longer than any other toy.
Get the Dog Chew Suction Cup Tug of War Toy for $16.99
4. A fabric feeder puzzle
According to more than 11,000 Amazon reviewers, this fabric feeder toy is great for catching a dog’s attention. Composed of soft, easy-to-clean fabric, you can hide food inside the little crevices and allow your pet to sniff their way into finding them.
When they’re done with their mission, just throw it in the washing machine for easy cleanup. Plus, if your pet is a usually fast eater, this tricky bowl will slow them down, so it can be used for feeding, too.
Get the Pet Snuffle Mat for Dogs for $14.44
5. A dance partner for your cat
Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the best. This tiny toy is little more than a length of steel wire with an adhesive on one end and a piece of cardboard on the other. Simply attach the adhesive to a wall or the floor and watch your cat go wild trying to catch the cardboard.
Get the Cat Dancer 101 Interactive Cat Toy for $1.14
6. A puppy Kong toy
Looking for a toy to specifically entertain your puppy? The Kong toy is a must. Made for a growing puppy’s baby teeth, it’ll help teach appropriate chewing behavior and offer enrichment to satisfy a younger pup’s needs. For more of a distraction, fill it with frozen peanut butter, canned dog food, or treats and let it do its magic.
Because it can bounce, it’ll work well with pups who want to play for as long as possible. Although you shouldn’t leave young puppies at home for too long, this will keep them busy during a quick errand or a run to grab some coffee and will help them to get used to being alone.
Get the Kong Puppy Dog Toy starting at $6.99
7. A challenging, plastic puzzle toy
Aside from providing mental stimulation for your pup, the Outward Hound Brick puzzle toy is wildly entertaining, too. It has an array of nooks and sliding discs, and your dog will search for the treats you put inside by pushing the discs with its nose. You can also increase the degree of difficulty by placing blocks that they’ll need to remove in between the sliders. All in all, your furry friend will stay busy and be rewarded with delicious treats for their effort.
If your four-legged friend is of the feline variety then the Trixie Pet Products Brain Mover Toy is an excellent alternative. The puzzle has four different modules each with their own level of difficulty and the rubber stoppers keep the puzzle in place while your cat searches for treats within.
8. One of our favorite pet cameras
Worried about what’s going with your pet when you’re away? Install this doggy camera for some peace of mind. Out of all the dog cameras we tested, our experts found that the Petcube Cam is our favorite affordable pet camera. We love its affordable price tag, compact design, and array of great features like great sound quality, compatibility with Alexa, and incredible video quality. It also has two-way communication so you can remind them what a “good boy” they are throughout the day.
For a next-level camera that also entertains your dog with flying treats, skip the popular Furbo for the Petcube Bites 2, our upgrade pet camera pick. It has all the great features of the less expensive Cam, but its treat-tossing mechanism is more reliable than Furbo’s.
10. An automatic yard door for fenced yards
Do you want your pup to get fresh air while you’re at work? Install an automatic yard door to your fenced-in yard. With a little practice, your pet will be able to let themselves out for playtime, to use the bathroom, or to sunbathe (my pup loves to do this on my deck). The PetSafe Electronic SmartDoor could be a worthwhile addition.
Connecting with the SmartKey sensor (attached to your pet’s collar), you can fully automate potty breaks and playtime. The door will automatically open up when your dog or cat goes near it, allowing them to go in or out as they please—and helps avoid security issues related to traditional pet doors.
Get the PetSafe Electronic SmartDoor for $174.95
11. A robust toy filled with catnip
If your cat is constantly crawling over your desk while you’re trying to get work done, this product is an ideal distraction. The Yeowww! catnip-filled banana is robust and chock-full of catnip for cats that go crazy for this stuff. It’s wrapped in a thick cotton fabric that isn’t prone to punctures or perforations. Reviewers say the toy is great for cats from all walks of life—one claims it makes their six-year-old cat act like a kitten again.
Get the Yeowww! catnip banana for $8.95
12. A safe and secure dog crate
While we aren’t suggesting you lock up your dogs during work hours, a crate can be a source of comfort for many dogs. And if you do need to keep your furry friend contained while you’re in an important meeting, a good crate protects them from the potential dangers in your home when you’re busy—not to mention protecting your things from a chew-happy pup.
If your dog is crate trained then the SmithBuilt Heavy Duty Dog Crate is an excellent and sturdy option. Not only is the crate well-built, it’s also a breeze to clean.
Get the SmithBuilt Heavy Duty Dog Crate for $244.99
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.